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How This Plan Works



RADICAL LIFE CHANGE.

Hence, the name of this blog. This is an ambitious, comprehensive plan that covers almost all aspects of my daily routine.

DIET:
  • Eat Homemade.I have a goal to eat as much homemade as possible because it's going to be beneficial financially (I'll talk about that more in money) and in terms of setting me up for success in the future. Ideally my goal is to get to the point where this kind of living and eating comes way more naturally and eventually becomes my default. I can't depend on some outside restaurant or supermarket to provide pre-made foods for me if I want to make this my lifestyle. I have had an aversion to homemade foods in the past - they don't seem as exciting, as appealing, as varied, etc. But I want to re-conceptualize my ideas of homemade food. I want to create a different relationship with homemade food. I would love for homemade food, at least in the majority of situations, to feel more "exciting" for me than eating out.

  • No Wheat and Sugar.Some of the major changes are to my diet. Why am I going off wheat, sugar, and limiting many other items? Well, wheat and sugar don't do me good. That's the bottom line. The result of eating wheat and sugar is also that I eat MORE and MORE wheat and sugar. For some reason with both I have addictive tendencies. Something about wheat in particular feels "easy" - like instead of cooking for myself it's easier to make a sandwich kind of thing. (Not that there aren't wheat-free alternatives to bread, but that's also why I'm reducing the processed foods.) Sugar is one of those things that the more I eat, the more I want to eat.

    I've had a LOT of problems with cavities and my dental health, and aside from all the other health problems with sugar, I just really need to get my teeth on a healthier track. Health-wise and money-wise it's really awful to deal with so many cavities.

    More Whole Grains & Naturally Sweet Foods. I want to emphasize more healthy whole grains and naturally sweet foods. Dried fruits without added sugar I'm thinking will be my go to when I get that sugar craving. I had a leftover bag of dried cranberries I was munching on for awhile throughout January, then I remember that those have a ton of added sugar! Lol. Sometimes even the seemingly "healthy" options can end up being deceptive that way. So I'm thinking more like dried apricots, etc.

  • No Alcohol. I'm deciding to do no alcohol for now, and to be honest I probably will be less strict with this one than the others. For instance, for Valentine's Day my boyfriend would really like for us to share a bottle of wine and I'm okay with that. I don't really have any issues with alcohol - it just felt appropriate that if I was "detoxing," so to speak, that I also cut out alcohol for a period.

    More Homemade Drinks. As part of my ongoing food experimentation theme, I want to try doing homemade kefir juice and possibly blood orange soda eventually if I get really ambitious about finding recipes, tracking down organic blood orange, etc. I just ordered the kefir kit, and I'm excited to try it! I'm also doing green tea in the morning with my breakfast.

  • No Fries.I had to put no fries down because these are my freaking downfall! Freaking fried potatoes!! Plus, I had to specifically put this on there because I have a co-worker who knows of my love for fries and would often specifically buy me an order any time he swung by Burger King for lunch, so I had to make sure that if I was going to all this trouble on my plan that I wasn't still scarfing down a handful of orders of fries every week.

    Greens Daily. So, instead of fries, greens and salad daily! Basically the opposite of fries - full of fiber and other goodness. I mean, I guess if I really wanted to scratch the itch of fries I could do some home-made sweet potato fries and whatnot, but to be honest I don't feel too much of a need right now, though who knows if that'll change.

  • Limited Natural Sweeteners. I didn't have this on my list in January, but I've found that I need to add it, because it doesn't do me that much good to cut back on sugar only to find myself pouring honey and agave and whatnot on everything I eat. I'll admit, it would be easy for me to head down that path. Right now, I'm putting a dash of agave in my morning flax/almond milk, sometimes I'm eating Vega protein bars which are pretty sweet, and sometimes I'm having diluted fruit juices.

    More Fresh Fruits. My fruit is now coming in the mornings in the form of my smoothie with spirulina and protein powder. Delish!

  • Limited Frozen & Processed. Frozen and processed I'd like to cut back on because, well, fresh food is better! That's just the bottom line. Tastes better, healthier, and definitely my body prefers it. My digestion and everything else are a lot happier when I eat more fresh foods. I don't mind eating some frozen foods because I know freezing isn't as hard on nutrients as a lot of things, but I also want to move away from my eating-a-frozen-pizza-for-dinner model I had going for awhile.

    Eat Veggies Daily & More Fresh and Whole. Veggies daily is something for which I've always striven. I was a strict vegetarian for twelve years (and for five of those, vegan) and I remember I reached a point when I realized that I wasn't a very healthy vegetarian. That being vegetarian didn't automatically improve my health because I wasn't eating a lot of GOOD stuff. Cutting out meat did mean I had a ridiculously low cholesterol and some other things like that, but I wasn't eating a whole lot of vegetables, which is silly considering I was supposed to be a VEGEtarian. Now I'm not so strict about my diet identification (I occasionally have some bites of meat, and low amounts of eggs and dairy in my diet) and am probably more of a vegetarian than I was before because now I'm really trying to focus more on vegetables and whole foods.

  • Limited Dairy, Oil, Deep Fried. Dairy I've decided to cut back on because I don't tolerate dairy very well, and the more of it I eat the more it gives me phlegm and causes breakouts. I am asian, so physiologically it's very likely I'm not designed for too much dairy, and besides that having read so much about how dairy can negatively affect health over the years I just don't feel quite comfortable when I eat a lot of it.

    Oil, well, oil is a tough one for me - fat is so yummy! It can be easy for me to drench things in oil when cooking, especially for things like caramelizing a lot of onion or whatnot. But too much oil also directly shows up in my face, which is a pretty clear indicator for me that moderate is better.

    Deep fried I recently added to the list because with working at Chipotle it's a big temptation to eat the chips all day long, and while I'm okay with eating a certain amount I know that deep fried foods don't really do the body good so I want to keep that down.

    Raw/Vegan “Dairy,” Coconut Oil & More Steamed, Sauteed. I really like vegan and raw foods so I want to experiment with homemade raw and vegan dairy foods, like coconut yogurt or nut yogurts or cheeses. And in terms of cooking, I'm wanting to experiment more with lightly cooked foods -- quickly steamed or blanched, lightly sauteed or stir-fried, etc. I really like the concept of well-done stir-fry: lightly cooking the outside of the vegetable and leaving the inside tender, crisp, juicy.


MONEY:
  • No Eating Out. With some exceptions (at work, where I get a significant discount, or if someone else treats and the food is in line with my goals), I don't want to spend my money on eating out. I need to bounce back financially from this past winter and I have two debts I am determined to pay down. Eating out has always been where I've spent my money. I'm not one of those people who likes to shop for clothes, jewelry, accessories or whatever. I'm also not into services like facials, pedicures, etc. I like to eat out, can't lie. I love different types of cuisines, different flavors, and there's even an aspect of pleasure in having someone else just "take care" of my dinner for me. I like going out with friends, I like going out with my boyfriend, I like going out alone -- I just like eating out, period. But right now it's not something I can afford, and I'm also hoping to start saving for a home, so it's probably not going to be something I can regularly afford for awhile. I don't feel too sad about it, though. I like the idea of trying to replicate some of my favorite foods at home - Thai, Indian, Mexican, etc. Mmmm! Food experiments FTW!

  • No Unnecessary New Purchases / Save Minimum $50 per Week. I want all my purchases to have a purpose, and I'm especially fine with any purchases that will aid in my goals of better health, fitness, etc. I want to make saving money an automatic habit, and although more than $50 a week would be my eventual goal, right now it feels like just the perfect number to get me started and help me get back on my financial feet.

HABITS:
  • No TV / No Movies / No Games on Phone. TV has a very addictive quality for me. Many nights after coming home from work I would sit around and watch TV until falling asleep. I'd also almost always eat in front of the TV. And most days I wouldn't go into work I'd stay at home and veg out in front of the TV.

    TV, for me, has definitely been a comforting technique/coping mechanism. Because of my difficulties falling asleep, TV was something I liked to turn to at night to quiet my talkative mind. I remember so many late nights watching endless sitcoms. I used to love watching Nick at Nite - I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, Bob Newhart, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, etc. I've also had periods of having Netflix 5-at-a-time or 8-at-a-time plans where I'd just go through TV and movies incredibly quickly.

    I've also noticed that I have anxiety associated with the comfort TV provides -- in my family we often would fight about "oh, but you've been watching all day, now it's MY turn" or "but I've already started this, I want to finish watching it" etc. And when I wouldn't be able to watch TV when I was really craving that comfort, I'd feel anxious and be unsure what else to do with my time.

    Games on the phone has the same quality as TV. I only ever had three games I was really into on my phone -- FreeCell, BubbleShoot Deluxe and Push-Roll. But especially the last two I could easily play for hours at a time. Definitely not great for my body -- it would tire out my wrists, my eyes, my neck, etc.

  • More Spanish. I speak Spanish conversationally and want to improve: my vocabulary, my comprehension, my ability to form sentences, my knowledge of common phrases and sayings, and my accent. So I'm planning to do about 15 minutes a day, and what I want to do is print out articles on topics that interest me and study the hell out of the articles until I practically know them backward and forward. That is, look up all the vocabulary I don't know, re-read and re-read the article out loud until my mouth becomes accustomed to pronouncing all the words, and basically using enough repetitions that I really get a feel for how the sentences in the article are formed, too.

  • More Singing. I love to sing and it's something that I just really haven't put time into. I've performed publicly at some weddings over the past few years, and for those I would work really hard to memorize the songs (they were in Cantonese, which I don't really speak) and I'd work hard on the song, but as soon as the performance was over I'd stop. What I want to do now is sing about 15 minutes a day, and work on memorizing some of my favorite songs to the point where I a) feel very comfortable singing them, and b) have them memorized to the point where I can easily sing them whenever I'm in a singing mood.

  • More Journaling and Blogging. My main commitment is to blogging here 30 minutes a day. With blogging I have a lot of difficulties with consistency. Every now and then I'll spend hours and hours writing stuff, and then for weeks I won't write anything. I want to work on writing a bit each day. I think often what happens for me with blogging is that I get very hung up about positive feedback/comments -- I really enjoy getting them, but then sometimes that enjoyment converts to anxiety and/or performance on my end. That's one of the reasons I've turned off comments on this journal. I'd like to just write to share without wondering whether X or Y topic will get more responses than another topic.

  • More Conception of Different Possibilities. This one is really, really important for me. There's so much stuff out there about "if you visualize it, you can achieve it" and "we can manifest whatever we want in our lives" etc. etc. but to be honest I always found sayings like those more ENRAGING than helpful. I didn't understand why it was that sometimes when I most desperately wanted things was when I felt like I was least like to have them.

    The part that always got left out of the equation, for me, was actually feeling that there were different possibilities open to me.

    For instance, let's say I want Job A. Job A sounds so perfect, and I feel like I'd be so great at it, and there's a part of me that thinks there's a chance I could get it. But another part of me? Totally certain I won't. And this part of me also has some really amazing PowerPoint presentations with extremely detailed lists of all the reasons THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Let's call this part of me Team Downer. Team Downer is incredibly convincing and persuasive! "Oh, well, they want such-and-such qualification and you only sort of have it, and it's such a competitive job market and there are going to be candidates way better than you, so why would you bother getting your hopes up for this? And, besides, when have you ever gotten a job that you really wanted? Jobs that look this great are always the ones you never hear back from. So don't get too ahead of yourself with quitting your day job, 'kay?"

    And the part that I didn't understand before was that the things I wanted most were the things I was secretly convinced I could never have. I had no problem fantasizing, but truly, openly and confidently feeling that I could have what I wanted? Hahaha, yeah. So not my style. At least -- before.

    Now, I am finding sitting with different possibilities and at least giving them a chance of existing to be very helpful for me. Not necessarily 100% believing. Not necessarily quitting my job just yet. But at least opening up the dialogue. For example, "okay, I don't have such-and-such qualification per se, but is it possible I could get the job, anyway? Is that a possibility that could exist in some reality I can imagine?" And the answer is that more and more often, I can at least conceive of having the things I want in some reality. Maybe I'm not yet fully convinced that it will come to reality, but I'm starting to crack the door open. And that's definitely something I want to keep fostering, expanding on, and exploring.

  • No Pointless Surfing. The intrawebs! Talking about my relationship with the internet would be a whole post in itself, but I'll summarize it quickly here: same addictive qualities as TV, but with certain added elements around wanting attention/receiving attention. I often love to read things on the internet, which is similar to the way I like to read novels or sit back and watch TV. There's a certain passivity in all those activities for me -- I'm receiving something, rather than putting something out. I'm absorbing rather than extending. On the internet, I'll have periods where I extend very well and easily, and periods where I withdraw into absorption mode again. While I'm extending I'm usually seeking connection, attention, etc. At some point during the extension I'll usually get overwhelmed or anxious about the attention and withdraw again.

    Right now, I'm limiting myself to surfing the internet with purpose as much as possible, and I count reading up on topics that interest me as falling within that realm.

  • More Conversations with Friends. :D :D :D Yay for friends! This would also fall under the theme of extending myself more, putting more of myself out there, and getting more support.

  • No Books (Novels) / More Nonfiction Reading. When I was younger, I would literally read my way through all kinds of activities. Dinner, walking around the store with my mom, entire days, etc. My parents were constantly trying to get me to put down my books to do things like, you know, focus on eating. I also used to have a lot of all-night reading sessions, almost exclusively with novels. There's something about absorbing myself in a fictional story, whether the story is on TV or in a novel, that really pulls me in.

    I want to turn more to nonfiction reading for awhile because it doesn't have the same quality as reading novels do for me. Novels, for me, are usually the first thing that end up replacing TV if I cut that out. I want to see what will happen if I cut out the back-up activity, as well.

  • Less Shooting Down My Own Ideas / More Dreaming/Awesome Lists. Less Team Downer and more Team Awesome Lists! God, I love lists. I love writing lists so much! And I feel like there's a way that people characterize that as too detail-oriented or obsessive-compulsive or whatever, and I'm starting to learn to embrace my love of lists, my love of details, my love of getting it all organized. I feel happy writing lists and dreaming instead of wistfully fantasizing.

  • Less Idle Thinking / More Action. I am AMAZING at thinking. It's hard for me to stop thinking. Action, sometimes? Not so great at. When I'm feeling good, I usually have no problems with actions, but anything less than good and the more I tend to go into my head. I want to focus a lot more on simply DOING things, rather than thinking so much about how I WISH I were doing things.


EXERCISE:
  • Daily exercise. Right now my exercise plan is a mixture of a whole bunch of different elements of the workouts I've been doing for the past year. I have cardio, strength, Chinese medicine balls, a wooden staff, IronMind expand your hand bands, resistance bands, a 100-pound heavy bag, my free weights, and a Chinese hei gung routine. Out of everything I'm doing, the hei gung routine is probably the most important. It is a freaking WORKOUT. It's 48 moves long and I've learned about 20 so far, and those 20 always kick my butt. I've developed definition in my forearms from doing it that other people have commented on. Ideally, I'd like to do some form of working out every morning, even if it's light movement on days when my body's not feeling more strength/impact. I just really want to get moving more and be less sedentary.


SUPPORT PERSON.

So, as for more specifically how I'm going to go about achieving all this radical change in so many different aspects of life: one of the biggest parts of this will be my support person.

This person does meal prep and cooking for me, based on the plan I have generated. I also get support around my wake up time (a wake up call) and accountability -- my support person checks off certain boxes for me every day based on the behaviors I have completed.

And funny enough, this person ended up being my mom! I had actually gone out and hired someone (who I rather quickly fired), but when my mom saw what the person was going to be doing for me she expressed her interest. I had hired her to make lunches for me for a couple months because I was already feeling like I wanted a change and wanted to get in more home-cooked meals. But when I told her about what I was thinking of doing, she misunderstood and thought I wanted some version of a personal coach who was going to kick my ass out of bed every morning and yell at me through my entire workout. Haha! Once she figured out that I wasn't trying to create my own crappy reality TV show, she suddenly decided to throw her hat in the ring for consideration. And consider I did -- I interviewed all the potential candidates who got back to me and thought about it, and in the end although there would be certain things she wouldn't be able to do for me (originally, I was going to have the person also do things like pick up groceries, but she can't drive so that's a no go), in the end I did feel she was the best choice.

So far it's been working out pretty well. I'll admit I was hesitant at first, for many reasons -- mixing money and family, my mom and I have our issues, she doesn't have much of a solid routine herself in many aspects, etc. -- but it has turned out to be good for her, too, I think, and it's one of the first times in her lives that I think she's had regular work that she felt able to do.

PRECISION NUTRITION.

I have also signed up for the Lean Eating program at Precision Nutrition. Looking at their before-and-after shots and promos makes the emphasis really seem like it's all about getting skinnier and weight loss and that it's similar to most of that other gimmicky shit out there, but I'm glad I looked into the program a little more because it's not. I really like the empahses on health and working out, and to be honest those are more important to me than dropping fat. I also like that there are daily check-ins and that you can communicate with your whole group through forums. They also have a very realistic approach to how people can change -- they don't give people really huge tasks, but rather small, focused ones that over time make a difference.

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radicallifechange

May 2013

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